Guide

A question many young architects battle with is whether they should join a big firm or a smaller one to develop their career. In this guide, we will discuss both options and the pros and cons each option has.

Join a Big Firm if you don’t mind grunt work

Joining a large architectural design firm seems like the obvious choice to many young architects. Not only may they seat their favorite architect but they also may have completed many of a graduate’s favorite projects. A bigger firm will give you the opportunity to work with more people, meet more clients, work on larger-scale projects, and long-term financial security. You might also get to work on projects that are abroad, giving you the chance to travel the world while doing your job. What could be better?

Well, you can have all of this but there is a high probability that you’ll have to do pretty insignificant work for years before you’re at that level. A bigger firm requires much more time on your part to give you the authority to design your own projects and take your own decisions. Most of the time in your earlier years you’ll be working on other architects’ projects and probably be paid very little. There is also a chance that you’ll be deemed invisible in the sea of people working at a large firm.

However, if you are willing to push through the ranks slowly and steadily and money is not a concern for you, then joining a firm that gives you the opportunity to work on massive projects is a great choice.

Join a Smaller Firm if you want more independence

A smaller design firm will give you much more authority and independence as a designer. You will be in direct contact with the clients, work on your own concepts and ideas, and lead a team of people through the project. You will have more hands-on work experience when it comes to your design’s construction phase. You’ll be made part of every meeting, and will have a say in the overall way the firm runs.

But of course, at a smaller firm, you may not have huge projects to work on. You’ll probably have to stick with residential and interior design at the start. There may not be a large influx of projects either, so you’ll to deal with slow days. A smaller firm might also not give you a reason to stay with it for a very long time, so in a couple of years, you might have to move to another company for fresher work or start a practice of your own if that is what you want.

 

So you can see that there are pros and cons to both kinds of jobs. What matters most in this decision is what your long-term goals are. If you want to be part of a large design firm and have a nice job with nice perks, join a bigger firm. But if you want to learn how to manage a project from the very start so you can develop your own practice in a couple of years, a smaller firm might suit you more.

 

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Do you feel like you need to have a career that demands creativity and critical thinking? Do you not want to be part of a profession that makes you sit behind a desk all day? Do you have an eye for design and feel the need to create physical spaces that people can live in and interact with?

If you said yes to all those questions, chances are you have an interest in studying architecture. But with all the negative hype you see about the course on the internet, should you actually take the decision?

The Course is Tough

There’s no denying the fact that architecture is a very tough course to study. It entails endless studio hours, later nights, manual labor, mental and physical stress, and a lot of defending when it comes to juries and critiques.

However, at the same time, the work can be very rewarding and fun if you’re really into architecture. Conceptualizing a building, visualizing it, drawing it, and presenting it to others is a great feeling. You’ll also get to work with a lot of other creative minds which will elevate your own ideas and designs.

The Work is Also Tough

Another con to being an architect that many people love to talk about is the lack of salary that a fresh graduate gets. However, this is true for many professions in today’s world and not just architecture. The problem arises when you couple this lack of income with a lack of design responsibility. Big firms don’t always hand out design projects to young architects. Instead, they get them to follow up on and support others’ designs.

But the fact is that this process of working on others’ designs, scrutinizing every detail and developing the drawings, is very important for young architects. Yes, it takes time and energy to stay with a company in this capacity, but it pays off after a few years quite handsomely.

 

So ultimately, the decision whether you want to be an architect or not depends on what you want from life. If you are very serious about architecture, then I say go for it. You’ll find a way to push through the rigorous course and make a name for yourself in the field. But if you’re not quite in love with the idea of architecture, then you probably shouldn’t get into it because you might just get sick of the hard work in a few years.

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